The Road Never Travelled

My father and I went fishing and camping this weekend. Really, we just went camping because it would be a stretch to call what we accomplished “fishing.” It was raining the second morning so we got a late start. We ate breakfast and took our time breaking camp. By the time we were done packing up, we decided it would be better to just ride around the mountains for awhile rather than fish unsuccessfully.

As a child, I used to hate riding around in a car. My dad loved it. He would load us up in the car on a Sunday afternoon and ride around to find new places or revisit old ones. I thought it was a boring waste of time. I could have been playing video games or playing pickup basketball with friends.

Now, as an adult, I love road trips (at least in theory — I-40 in Oklahoma is a long and uneventful road). There is a thrill associated with going to a new place. There is a freedom to doing it with your own transportation.

There is one caveat to my love of riding in the car and road trips. You must have the freedom, time, and wherewithal to get out of the car and explore what you find. Just driving past it is rarely good enough. I have written about this in a previous post, but we should indulge and feed our curiosity.

Dad and I were able to do that this weekend. Once the decision was made to ride aimlessly rather than fish with futility, we pointed the Subaru north on 441 and made for North Carolina. We stopped at the North Carolina Visitor’s Center and picked up a map. I scanned the area around us and found this road:

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 5.27.39 PM

This HWY 28 was a short drive from our location in Franklin, NC. It came out in Highlands and we were familiar with how to get home from there. Plus, there were at least two different waterfalls on the route.

The first point of interest where I knew we had made a good decision were the shoals pictured in the featured image for this post. So we stopped at a pull off and got out of the car. We stood at the rim of the gorge and took in the scenery (unfortunately, we also had a discussion about the amount of trash that was dumped on the side of the road). These shoals are impressive enough to deserve a name, but no name was advertised. After some minutes soaking in the scene, we headed further down the highway.

Dry Falls ended up being a misnomer. The amount of water coming off of these falls was impressive. In fact, Dad and I tried to think of any waterfalls that we have encountered in the southeast that are bigger in terms of volume. We know of some that are higher, but we struggled to think of any with more volume.

Bridal Veil Falls were frankly not as impressive, but still interesting. There is a paved road beneath the falls and in a previous era one could drive under the falls. It was roped off and my guess is that modern liability concerns are just too great for that now. There was also a deep cave in the rock under the falls. It did not go back very far, but was neat all the same. There was also a sizable crack in the roof above that reminded you that one day all of this will fall down.

My phone actually died right after I took the picture featured in the post. This was good in a way. I was not worried about taking the perfect Instagram picture (I did post the only one I had). I really like photography, but sometimes I spend too much time behind the lens. After my phone died, I could live completely in the moment. It is also great that I do not have pictures to show other people. I can tell you about this great place, but you will have to go there to see it. It is not that far.

The road offers us an incredible opportunity to go on adventures both small and large. Get a map and find a road that you have never been down. It might be a complete bust, but it could also be something incredibly cool right in your own backyard.

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